Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Article Confirms Everything I've Said About Education for the Last 5 Years.

Fortune Magazine published this story and it doesn't strike me as surprising. Over the last five years, since the imposition and increase of technology by our administration and by the country at large, I have seen a reduction in work ethic, retention, writing and reading abilities. We no longer teach cursive so there is no motor memory of writing. The assumption by the powers that be is there will always be a calculator or a computer accessible to do the mundane tasks of basic math or spelling. This erosion of basic skills is resonating through the workforce. Parents who pushed computers at early ages over reading kids bedtime stories are now faced with young adults who do not read for pleasure or enrichment and possibly cannot read on a literate level at all.

Yet what is the drumbeat we hear? TECHnology TECHnology many vocational programs were gutted to buy into the rarified coursework of Animation or Graphic Design? How many kids fully capable of hands on skills in a variety of trades such as electrical repair, plumbing, auto repair, cosmetology, cabinetry and more have found themselves instead in classes they do not need and do not want? The myth that every kid is going to college is a fallacy. Every kid doesn't belong in college. Many kids go to college only to fail and end up in dead end jobs with a large student loan in tow. This is no way to improve an economy.

I guarantee that in China or Japan or Korea or India or Russia they are not teaching their children to do math using computers. I promise you that these nations also celebrate their complex language structure by requiring students learn to write and communicate. These are skills that are vanishing from a large part of the population. Ironically we are removing the very exercises that would instill deeper retention. Cursive writing is used to help dyslexic students internalize the shapes of letters. Rote memorization of multiplication tables affects a different part of the brain than using a calculator and allows for deeper understanding of the PROCESS of multiplication.

As I have said before, technology is a good servant, but a bad master. Every sci fi movie alludes to this fear of technology actually countermanding the desires of humans. Perhaps we are on the threshold of that becoming reality. When you go to the doctor, the younger ones often spend more time looking at the computer than the patient. For that reason Johns Hopkins has medical students taking art history classes to teach them to OBSERVE THE PATIENT. How many medical mistakes have occurred because of the failure to note the reaction of the patient over the steps of protocol?
We have young mothers sitting at playgrounds enthralled with Angry Birds while their children are out of control. We have students watching movies during class. What is more the overlay of social media on a population that has not been taught basic social skills has led to most of the angst we've witnesses in society over the last few years. Can you name one incident-political, social, legal or economic-that wasn't in some way by social media?

It's time to stop this nonsense. I'm not saying to forbid media, but it's time to stop just giving in to trends. Frankly I think Apple and Google and Facebook and all the other manufacturers and websites share the blame for the sick dissolution of social discourse. And make no mistake, for all you liberals out there, none of these companies do it for any other reason beyond making a buck. So while hipsters walk around talking on IPhones about how high their student loans are and complaining about how they don't have any money, step back and think about all the things we have now that are branded and promoted and therefore deemed popular. Is Starbucks really better than a cup of coffee you make yourself? 

Such weakminded behavior leads to some of the mob/gang/group atrocities we've witnessed online. How are the SAE's any different than wilding mobs attacking innocent people at a midwestern fair? How desperate are these kids to find some magic pill that can insure their success the way Mommy and Daddy did when they were in public school? While both are vile and nasty and racist and violent, this doesn't spring full born from their own heads. Have you listened to the lyrics of popular music? I ban those songs in my classroom and yet I have had heated discussions with students who think the n-word is allowed simply because they themselves are black. I think bad, rude, insensitive language goes across the boards. You cannot permit some people to use the words with impunity and then get outraged when someone uses them. NOBODY SHOULD BE USING THESE WORDS. Stop trying to be hip and cool by joining into activities that are mean, dangerous and simply unnecessary. And the kids on the bus using the n-word in Oklahoma are every much as vile as the gangs who assault innocent people on the street for the sake of "fun." 

By the way, lest you think I am out of touch, much of this is fueled by things my own kids-ranging from 25 to 30-have told me about their peers. Every week it's a new complaint about coworkers that are hunted down by bill collectors or people who run up credit card bills at restaurants leaving friends to cover the bill. These dime a day millionaires have bought into the Oprahization of America believing that their mere existence qualifies them for the best of everything. Nobody deserves the best of everything, especially if they can't pay for it. 

Here's the column and link. Read it. Share it. This is important.

Millenial Fail

Surprised? So were the researchers who tested and compared workers in 23 countries.

We hear about the superior tech savvy of people born after 1980 so often that we tend to assume it must be true. But is it?
Researchers at Princeton-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) expected it to be when they administered a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Sponsored by the OECD, the test was designed to measure the job skills of adults, aged 16 to 65, in 23 countries.
When the results were analyzed by age group and nationality, ETS got a shock. It turns out, says a newreport, that Millennials in the U.S. fall short when it comes to the skills employers want most: literacy (including the ability to follow simple instructions), practical math, and — hold on to your hat — a category called “problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”
Not only do Gen Y Americans lag far behind their overseas peers by every measure, but they even score lower than other age groups of Americans.
Take literacy, for instance. American Millennials scored lower than their counterparts in every country that participated except Spain and Italy. (Japan is No. 1.) In numeracy, meaning the ability to apply basic math to everyday situations, Gen Yers in the U.S. ranked dead last.
Okay, but what about making smart use of technology, where Millennials are said to shine? Again, America scored at the bottom of the heap, in a four-way tie for last place with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland.
Even the best-educated Millennials stateside couldn’t compete with their counterparts in Japan, Finland, South Korea, Belgium, Sweden, or elsewhere. With a master’s degree, for example, Americans scored higher in numeracy than peers in just three countries: Ireland, Poland, and Spain. Altogether, the top U.S. Gen Yers, in the 90thpercentile, “scored lower than their counterparts in 15 countries,” the report notes, “and only scored higher than their peers in Spain.”
“We really thought [U.S.] Millennials would do better than the general adult population, either compared to older coworkers in the U.S. or to the same age group in other countries,” says Madeline Goodman, an ETS researcher who worked on the study. “But they didn’t. In fact, their scores were abysmal.”
What does that mean for U.S. employers hiring people born since 1980? Goodman notes that hiring managers shouldn’t overestimate the practical value of a four-year degree. True, U.S. Millennials with college credentials did score higher on the PIAAC than Americans with only a high school diploma (albeit less well than college grads in most other countries).
“But a degree may not be enough,” Goodman says, to prove that someone is adept with basic English, can do what she calls “workaday math,” or has the ability to use technology in a job. Curious about how the PIAAC measures those skills, or how you’d score yourself? Check out a few sample math questions, or take the whole test.

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